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How to Find Your Next Account Executive Job (Even During a Crisis)

If you’re looking for a new Account Executive job today, then you know how difficult it can be. Where do you start with so many companies struggling and cutting down their sales teams?

After 500 hours of research and hundreds of interviews, we’ve identified the best companies to apply to and gathered the answers to three questions that are critical to finding your ideal account executive role. 

  • Which companies cut the most salespeople, and which grew the most between January and April this year?
  • What percent of most companies are made up of quota-carrying sales reps vs engineers and other roles?
  • Which software companies have the largest armies of account executives today?

We’ll go over each question in detail in this article, and then we’ll give you a framework so you can think through which account executive role, at which company, would be the best fit for you right now. 

The Companies Hiring Account Executives (Even During Crisis!)

Many teams are going through change currently, as founders figure out the best way to deal with the current crisis

Some teams have decided to double down and hire all the best sales talent, even while other companies lay off employees. 

The Top Hirers Today:

1. Freshworks hired 501 new employees over the past 3 months, and their sales team is now 334 strong. Their total team size is 3,111. 

The company helps small businesses (SMB’s) scale with tools like live chat, invoicing, and support management tools. Account executives at Freshworks are expected to execute a high-velocity, low-ARPU model.

The average annual deal size (ACV) a new account executive closes is about $657. So, expect to be doing lots of demos. 

2. 247.ai is a customer success tool where new account executives close deals at less volume but much higher prices — think 6- and 7-figure contract values. 

In Q1 of this year, they hired 104 new employees. Their sales team is now 77 strong, 2% of their total team.

3. Sprinklr is a customer experience management platform with a sales team of over 128 account executives. They hired 255 new employees over the past 3 months, and they’re expecting new account executives to close deals in the $50k–$150k range over their first 12 months. 

Think about what sales motion you’re most comfortable with as you consider different SaaS companies to join.

Companies with high average contracts — $100,000/yr and higher — will require higher touch, but much less volume. It’s a high-stakes game with more customer concentration risk. 

If you’re more extroverted and love working with hundreds of leads, consider a lower ACV company like Freshworks. There you’ll do 50+ demo’s per month but likely only close about 20–40% of those.

These Companies Are Shrinking Their Teams During the Crisis

Here are a couple of companies you should stay away from as you’re looking for your next account executive role. 

1. Datastax fuels much of the NoSQL community and sells exclusively to CTO’s. Back in 2018, many predicted the company would IPO in 2019 after their CEO, Billy Bosworth, shared they’d hit “between $100m and $200m in ARR.”

Unfortunately, that never happened. 

Over the past 3 months, they’ve let go of 100 team members, shrinking their team from 627 in January 2020 to 527 in April 2020. 

Their sales team is just 11 people today. 

2. Broadly helps local small businesses get leads. With very few people leaving their houses due to COVID-19, their business has taken a pretty big hit. 

The company has 53 current account executives who make up 49% of their total team of 109 people. 

Over the past three months, they’ve let 31 employees go.

3. Hotschedules helps the hospitality industry schedule events. Before the lockdown, the company was on a tear. However, they’ve had to let go 25 employees over the past 3 months. 

Account executives at Hotschedules follow a high-demo volume, low-ARPU close model. 

Today, the full team is 368 people with 45 account executives. 

We’re not saying these are bad companies to work for — most of these companies should bounce back once the world economy opens — but if you’re looking to start your next account executive role in the near future, you should likely look elsewhere. 

Ideal Sales Organization Size

A company’s dependence on its sales team is also a strong indicator of company health that you should be looking at when considering an account executive role. 

For example, a company that sells a tool through a freemium model, where customers convert by paying very little, probably cares less about field sales and more about no-touch onboarding.

One way to measure a company’s dependence on its sales team is to look at what percent of the total employees are dedicated to a sales role. 

For teams larger than 1,000 employees, the total number of account executives can range anywhere from between 2% and 30% (Zoom) of total team size. Most companies fall between 7–15% 

Let’s look at Ping as an example. Ping Identity sells an identity verification and security tool that starts at about $80,000 per year. Of their 1,033 team members, about 9% are account executives. They’re actively hiring, and have the blessing of liquidity since they’ve IPOed. 

Other companies with a high percentage of AE’s include:

  • ICIMS: 1,034 on team, 10% account executives
  • Workfront: 1,189 on team, 11% account executives
  • Zoom: (obviously a fast-growing anomaly today) with 2,128 on team, 29% account executives 

When we start to look at companies between 100 and 1,000 employees, the sales team percentage doesn’t change much, but a new pattern pops up. 

In smaller companies of this size, the sales motion has more to do with the number of account executives than almost any other metric. A freemium tool, like Quizlet, for instance, with 211 people on its team, has just one sales rep because their average price point is only $18/year. 

Their model is a freemium, no-touch model which doesn’t require account executives. 

On the flip side of Quizlet is DiscoverOrg, which sells a $36k/year product. 29% of their total team are account executives. 

Keep pricing in mind as you hunt for your next AE gig!

The Top 3 Sales Organizations Today

If you’re wanting an opportunity that you’ll learn a lot from as you enter the account executive world, you might prefer to find the biggest team with the best sales machine. 

When it comes to selling software, the largest sales teams today are at Qualtrics, Zoom, and Cvent with their teams of 619, 609, and 427 account executives, respectively. 

The Cvent playbook is an interesting one. It was perfected by Cvent’s parent private-equity firm, Vista Partners, which owns large stakes in some of the world’s top software companies. 

If engaging with 600 other account executives isn’t your thing, look at companies like Smartsheet, Socialbackers, and Podium, which have teams of 99, 96, and 95 account executives, respectively. 

3 Things to Remember For Your Next Account Executive Job

In the end, you don’t have to choose one of the companies we’ve shown you to find a good AE job. Sometimes a company and you end up being a perfect match, despite the odds. However, regardless of what company you’re looking at, always keep three things in mind when evaluating them.

1. Pricing: If the company sells a low-priced product, expect to do dozens if not hundreds of demos a month. If they sell a $100k+ per year product, expect to have a much smaller book of business with each lead being high stakes. 

AE’s can thrive in both roles, but consider the kind of selling motion you want to be a part of.  

2. Sales Machine Maturity: Is their machine ready for you? Look at how many current reps the company has. If the sales team is under five, it’s likely they are still figuring out their sales motion. 

If you like that higher risk, build-from-the-ground-up approach, that could be a great fit.

However, if you simply want to show up, do your job, and leave, make sure you’re joining a company where the model is already figured out. Sales teams of 15 people and higher are generally more established and mature and will be a better fit for you. 

3. Team Momentum: Is the team hiring or firing amid all this change? Make sure you’re spending your time applying to companies that are expanding their sales teams during the crisis and not shrinking. 

The last thing you want to do is join a company that decides a month later that their cash burn is too high and decides to release you. 

Now, the only thing left for you to do is get your resume in order and start applying!

Know any other great opportunities for AE’s? Let us know in the comments.

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